Coal to Dominate India Power Till 2030 Despite Renewables Boost
By: Siya Bhatia
A new report by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of India says coal will account for half the country’s energy demand in 2030, even though the share of non-fossil fuels is expected to swell to 65% of its installed power capacity.
The assessment draws upon the mismatch between India’s peak power demand and the peak power output of solar and wind power stations, which — in the absence of energy storage — prolongs the necessity to use coal power.
The CEA’s analysis shows that India may be able to exceed one of its 2015 Paris Agreement commitments – reaching 40% of installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources. But the report also sees annual carbon emissions from the power sector rising about 12% from levels expected in 2022 to 1.154 billion tons. The report didn’t include an assessment of what that means for another key India goal – cutting emissions intensity of gross domestic product by as much as 35% from 2005 levels.
India’s coal demand has ballooned to nearly 1 billion tonnes per annum over higher demand from utilities, but CEA’s latest report is silent on what the trend means for the country target of shrinking its emissions intensity by 30-35% (over 2005 levels) by 2030.
Non-fossil fuel power sources, led by solar and wind, are seen generating 48% of gross generation, more than double what it was at the end of last year, while accounting for 65% of installed capacity, according to the report. India had 80 gigawatts of renewable capacity at the end of May and has set a goal to install 175 gigawatts by 2022.
“The recent cost trends of renewable energy generation sources have given them the footing to compete with conventional sources of electricity generation,” according to the report.
India is projected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide from the power sector before 2030, as the nation’s electricity demand skyrockets, the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Outlook last year.
While coal’s share in capacity is likely to drop to one-third, it will account for 50% of electricity generated, according to Monday’s report. It was about 72% of generation at the end of March, according to separate CEA data.